One Great Room

By Carol Tisch Photography by Gene Pollux June 1, 2009

Though Yip wanted substantial pieces of furniture as a space-enlarging device, budget precluded an oversized coffee table. Instead, two tables placed side by side, 8, achieve the look.

HGTV celebrity host Vern Yip loves a challenge, and it shows in the great room he created for the 1,789-square-foot Davenport model at Savannah Preserve, a new carriage-home development in University Place. Yip decorated the entire home for $15,000—a budget set by co-developers Larry Lieberman and Nathan Metzger, his longtime client.

"Our goal was to show that you can decorate your home within a reasonable budget and still have it be luxurious," says Yip, who shopped for bargains on local sale racks and scoured the Internet for online deals. Deftly mixing upscale designer showroom pieces found on craigslist with well-styled outlet store finds, Yip was able to save money without compromising on quality. "It is always better to buy a quality piece on sale than one that is similarly priced but cheaply made," he explains.

"There are plenty of downsides to the current bad economy, but there’s also an upside when it comes to interior design," Yip adds. "Today great design is affordable and accessible." And it should be, he says, because great design can change your life.


Texture trumps pattern in contemporary rooms, says Yip. He creates visual impact with contrasting textures, from the rough elm frame of the sofa mirror, 1, to smooth velvet Greenwich armchairs 2, all from Pottery Barn Outlet.

Yip uses area rugs to define various functional spaces in open floor plans, in this case a Pottery Barn rug, 3, which reinforces the textural theme with a raised pile sculptured wood grain.

A dramatic accent wall, 4

, in Benjamin Moore’s chocolaty Van Buren Brown grounds the sophisticated color palette to create a relaxed, modern look that’s Florida-friendly without being "beach-y." Ceiling fans are absent from Yip’s Davenport great room because he believes the space would benefit more from the decorator effect created by using stylish West Elm chandeliers, 5 ($310 for two), as floating art. Decorating on a budget does not mean sacrificing quality or style: A sharp eye for upscale brands on the craigslist Web site netted an exquisite curved arm sofa, 6 ($600), by renowned Atlanta interior designer John Oetgen. Yip is adamant about using only live foliage, 7, in his interiors, and advocates sculptural leaves clipped from the back yard and orchids purchased at Home Depot. Flexibility is vital when decorating for less.

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